The Horrorathon – The Raven (1963)

maddy loves her classic films has announced her Horrorathon a month ago (I’m guessing for Halloween) and I thought I’d pick a Vincent Price film I haven’t seen yet for the occasion.

The Raven (1963) seemed like a good choice because I was always fascinated with Edgar Allan Poe’s work and Vincent Price is one of my favorite actors, but my film verdict isn’t as tolerant as my love for Price.

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Even though I’m usually up to a classic b-movies spoof, The Raven just didn’t cut it for and I truly thought it was a lousy spoof. Even for a spoof, it sucked and I hope Vincent’s ghost isn’t going to come haunting my scared ass just because I said The Raven sucked.

The Raven is b-rated farce about a mediocre wizard (Peter Lorre) turned into a raven by a powerful sorcerer named Dr. Scarabus (Boris Karloff). The wizard turns to Dr. Erasmus Craven (Vincent Price) to ask for help in bringing him back to his human form. Unaware of his powers and still bereaved of the death of his wife, Lenore, Craven takes pity on the poor whining bird and brews a shape-shifting potion. Dr. Bedlo (the former Raven) declares he’s after revenge and tells Dr. Craven he had seen Lenore in Scarabus’ castle and convinces him to come along and see her for himself. Accompanied by his beautiful daughter Estelle and Bedlo’s son Rexford (Jack Nicholson), Craven faces Dr. Scarabus in a duel of magic.

The Raven is not my first Roger Corman film and yet the first one making me go “ohhhh… no”. After a glorified trail of films including House of Usher (producer), Dementia 13 (producer), and The Masque of the Red Death (producer), which I loved, The Raven, I must say, was a bit of a blow which I didn’t bother watching all the way through (your forgiveness, Maddy). Choosing a cast so refined as Corman did is what saves the film from being a total disaster, starting with Vincent Price – the Horror king who always delivered an exquisite performance. The man embeds dread with humor oh so well, and his ghoulish voice is just… AHHH… everything. Watching him act is a delight for any Horror lover when even the shittiest role turns into his masterpiece. The man is a living and breathing horror legend.

The rest of the cast includes A-listers Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and a then unfamiliar Jack Nicholson. Boris Karloff is one of the most iconic names in Horror cinema mostly known for his mythical characters, The Mummy, Frankenstein and my recent The Black Cat’s Hjalmar Poelzig. Peter Lorre’s Dr. Bedlo is a truly odd looking character much like Lorre himself, which probably explains why he starred in everything terror – Tales of Terror, The Comedy of Terrors, and The Man Who Knew Too Much (not terror). Mystery, Horror, and Oddity are written all over this guy’s face.

Jack Nicholson as Bedlo’s son Rexford, is a total goofball and very much dissimilar to the Jack we all know and love. But I guess we all need to start somewhere.

I love the ghastly setting of Craven’s house and Scarabus’ castle. Nothing does it for me more than old haunted rooms covered in spiderwebs and dim candle lights, morbid paintings of dead wives and in-house mausoleums. Corman is fantastic at setting a grim mood even if he slips in a few comic props.

After all of my ranting about The Raven, I still can’t decide if I was being way too harsh or simply honest. I’ll just remain ambivalent and on to the next one.

Thanks for reading.

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Film Club: The Shining

All Kubrick fans out there, head over to what about the twinkie? to see what us Film Clubbers had to say about The Shining (1980). An interesting mixture of thoughts and ratings. Brrr….

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This months Film Club is a suittably scary edition as Natasha from the excellent Films and Things chose Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Read on as we dissect the classic 1980 horror.

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Gotham’s Greatest

In light of the new T.V. series Gotham, I had, what I’d like to call, a Batman thread of thought. I came up with a question: who is my favorite villain in all Batman movies? You know, I have been a great follower of the entire Batman movie series, and never actually pondered upon this important matter. Time to make up my mind!

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The Joker (Jack Nicholson), Batman, 1989

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Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer), Batman Returns, 1992

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Oswald Cobblepot (Danny DeVito) Batman Returns, 1992

The Riddler (Jim Carry), Batman Forever, 1995

The Riddler (Jim Carry), Batman Forever, 1995

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Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones), Batman Forever, 1995

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Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman), Batman & Robin, 1997

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Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Batman & Robin, 1997

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The Joker (Heath Ledger), The Dark Knight, 2008

Who, you ask? well, it’s really really difficult to choose. Their all magnificent maniacs with a sad story to tell. However, my winner is

 Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman!

Pfeiffer’s playing the role of Selina Kyle, a lonely and frustrated secretary. When Kyle reveals her boss’s evil plan of building a power plant and stealing all the electricity from Gotham city, she’s being pushed from the edge of a window into total insanity. With a stitched leather suite, fake nails and a deadly grin, Catwoman is out to concur whom ever her nine hearts desire, especially Batman.

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I am Catwoman. Hear me roar.

Everybody needs a villain. Who’s your favorite?

 

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

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Mel Gibson as Mad Max, 1985

With the up and coming Mad Max: Fury Road, I decided to reminisce a special older version, a favorite of mine… Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. A post-apocalyptic film created in 1985 (back to the 80’s) by director George Miller and George Ogilvie. A young Mel Gibson in his third go round as Mad Max (Max Rockatansky), a road warrior who is now on a mission to defeat Aunty Entity (Tina Turner), the vicious ruler of shady Bartertown. Max had a chance to win Aunty’s hearts desires, after she discovered his miraculous warrior skills. Breaking their deal, Max is being exiled to the desert’s by furious Aunty Entity, and fates exhaustion and probable death. “Bust a deal, face the Wheel.” He is saved by a tribe of children led by Savannah Nix, who recruits Max for the mission of the ruthless queen’s defeat.

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Aunty Entity and her army of barbarians

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Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985) Blu-ray Screenshot

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MadMaxBeyondThunderdome-Still15Growing up I remember loving this film. Much like Labyrinth, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome had managed to create an unforgettable mark in my film archive. Tina Turner joined a wall of villain fame alongside David Bowie’s Jareth, and Jack Nicholson’s Joker. Her costume and hairdo are still so inspiring, that even today’s artists mimic (Rihanna). Her theme hit song, “We Don’t Need Another Hero” was sung by me repeatedly, as I, until today, click on the song’s YouTube link to reminisce.

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Tina Turner as Aunty Entity

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“We are the children, lost generation”

Mad Max: Fury Road, starring Tom Hardy who takes Mel’s role as Max and Charlize Theron as bad-ass commander named Imperator Furiosa, is due to come alive in May 2015. More digital effects and less dialog, director George Miller states. Millennium shows its signs. In the meantime, let me take you back… to the 80’s!